Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hr Blush - Exposed

January 30, 2013

Ever since hearing Jen (From Head To Toe) rave about the Amazonian Clay blush from Tarte, I knew I needed to get it into my hands. But being a blush addict, I have WAY too many products and have been attempting to cut down. But VIB sales always get the best of me and I finally have this beauty in my hands.

Made from clay harvested on the river banks of the Amazon, this product works really well on all skin types. The clay blush looks really natural when applied to the skin, and is quite pigmented, allowing colour to build up with each brush stroke. The clay is supposed to minimize oil around pores, and provide hydrating benefits to the skin during wear - which gives your skin a natural flush all day. What I love about the shade Exposed is that its a great nude tone dark enough to double up as a bronzer too. It works really well for contouring and giving more definition to the face. The product is long wearing - up to 8 hours for me - and gives my skin a natural flush all day. The line itself has 15 shades to try out, so there's something for everybody. Do check it out, cause this is definitely sitting at the top of my list of blush favourites!

Available from Sephora & Tarte.

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: OMG Nail Polish Strips Review

January 28, 2013

Sometimes I like to be lazy. But I've never been so lazy to the point that I had to apply nail polish strips on my finger tips instead of doing a full manicure as per usual. So when I first checked out the line of options from OMG Nail Strips, I thought it would be a breeze putting them on.

OMG Nail Strips is a company based out of New York selling various nail polish strip designs for your nails. Having the predesigned stickers allows you to put intricate designs on without having to wait hours for polish layers to dry and risk having designs smudged.

A major advantage for their products is definitely their price point, where a set for a full manicure is under $5 and their website offers free shipping to all destinations. When you compare the price to nail polish strips by Sally Hansen or OPI (upwards of $9), you are saving quite a bit.

For myself, I chose to go with a leopard design (available here) as I liked the contrasting colours in the set. Each package comes with 14 nail polish stickers that are in standardized sizes to accommodate most nail sizes. I had no idea what to expect for application as it was my first time using nail strips of any kind, but the application really was a breeze.

The stickers were quite thin, but very sticky and pliable. Most of the sizes did accommodate to my fingernail sizes, and after being stuck on, it was really easy to take a pair of cuticle scissors to just trim off the excess. I'd say the entire process took me about 12 minutes to do, and for a first timer, I'd say this product seems pretty fool proof.

But there's a bad part. I started seeing some tip wear within 24 hours of application, and didn't exactly know why. The stickers were well adhered to my nails, and I'm usually pretty lucky with chipping issues. But then I realized that removal of the product is done using water, so anytime I washed my hands or took a shower, the nail stickers likely suffered some damage. If you do decide to try out any of the nail polish strips, I would highly recommend finishing off with some topcoat just to preserve the design. As I wore these without topcoat, the stickers lasted me about 2.5 days before I needed to remove them.

Since I usually am pretty simple with my manicures, I would love for this company to release some simpler designs - maybe even just some plain sparkly or metallic designs that can be worn and be removed easily! But for those of you that love something a little more eye catching, check out their range of products here.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me by a PR company for consideration of a review. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.


Normand's Bistro

January 26, 2013

Normand's Bistro. Related to, but not to be confused with Normand's on Jasper Ave, is located inside the Citadel Theatre. This dimly lit, cozy restaurant is a little hidden, but convenient to visit if you're attending a show.

Normand's Bistro - 10177 99 Street - Edmonton AB

On the particular evening that I went in for dinner, there weren't any shows going on, so the restaurant was quite quiet for 7PM. Aside from my table, there was only one other being served. Not a huge issue for me, but if you are planning on dinner before a show, make sure to arrive early as the waiter did tell me it does get quite busy.

To start off the night, my friend and I shared the Bison Carpaccio ($15): drizzled with white truffle oil & reduced balsamic. I liked the slight hint of truffle flavour, and the sweet balsamic contrasted the salted meat. Nothing was overpowering, so the true flavour of the bison really came through. The slightly chewy texture contrasted against the crunch from the greens, making it a great starter for the night.

For my main, I went for the Lac Brome Roasted Duck Legs ($27): served with cranberries and orange port wine sauce. The portion size was very generous, and the duck legs looked so succulent. The cranberry sauce was tangy, with sweetness from the reduced cranberries, pairing quite well with the duck. The mashed potatoes were so creamy and buttery, I wish I could eat them all day long. However, the duck was slightly overcooked for my liking, making it a little dry, but was helped by the sauce.

Braised beef short rib

To finish off the night, we went for the Bananas Flambe ($8.50): butter, brown sugar and dark rum, with ice cream. To my surprise, the waiter informed me that he had cooked our dessert since the cook had left for the night. Either way, the bananas were soaked in a delicious caramelized sauce, and paired very well with the ice cream. The addition of the crepe like cookie was a great change in comparison to the soft textures to the rest of the dessert.

All in all, Normand's Bistro was a great little place to eat. The menu isn't overly extensive, but has enough variety to cater to different tastes. It would be a great option for date night or a celebratory dinner at a little higher of a price point. If you're dressed up and out to see a play, why not stop for dinner beforehand?

Normand's Bistro on Urbanspoon


Stripe Me Happy

January 24, 2013

Garage Striped Chiffon | F21 Jeans (similar) | Shoes from HK
Coach Boyfriend Watch | Helloberry Bella Bracelet | Coach Audrey Bag (similar)

Stripe Me Happy. Kind of like colour me happy, but with stripes. Because it's taking everything I have in my system to avoid buying striped pieces for my wardrobe. I remember I hated stripes two years ago, and now it takes every ounce of my willpower to resist them. Ah. Don't even get my started with my leopard print loving problem either!

I'm sure everyone out there has some type of colour or pattern they can't help adding to their closet. Whats yours? :)

Manicure Monday

Manicure Monday: Still Into Pink

January 21, 2013

Happy Monday! I travelled on slick, pure ice roads this weekend! So much fun... not. Last week my city was sitting at a high of +6'C, and then dropped to -30'C within two days, meaning all the roads now are pure ice. Add a couple centimeters of snow on top, and you've got disaster. At least Oprah is in town tonight? Does that make up for it? Hah, hope everyone else had a fun weekend!

This week I have a brand new Shade from Nicole by OPI to share with you. And better yet, its the perfect Barbie Pink. Get ready to meet: Still Into Pink

Still into Pink is a very bright, blue-based pink chock full of a silvery shimmer. Being my first Nicole By OPI polish (I am an OPI snob..), I was surprised by the brush, as it is shorter and wider than the traditional OPI one. It isn't difficult to work with though, as the bristles spread evenly for a nice application. This particular shade was very vibrant, and perfectly opaque at two coats. Because of the almost neon quality, Still Into Pink does dry matte, but thats nothing that a topcoat can't fix to turn it into a glossy finish. Trust me, this shade is so much fun - I got so many compliments with it on! :)

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me by a PR company for consideration of a review. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Edmonton food

The Underground Tap & Grill

January 19, 2013

Beer lover? I for one am not, but even hearing that an establishment in Edmonton has 72 beers on tap, I was definitely curious. Following an escalator ride below ground, you’ll find yourself at The Underground Tap & Grill.

The Underground Tap & Grill - 10004 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB

The dimly lit surroundings and comfy booths really make me feel like I’m in an old style pub. Lots of beers on tap, friends around the table drinking pints of beer, and the friendly staff put you in a place where you can truly relax and drink the beer that piques your interest at ease. After all, they’re calling all beer lovers to UNITE!

One of the great features available at Underground are the beer flights – if you can’t choose just one, try four at a time! Unfortunately many of the ones that my friends and I were interested in trying for the night they ran out of, leaving less of a variety for patrons to choose from. If you’re gonna boast that you have 72 beers on tap, you’d better have them ready when people come. Hopefully next time I stop by everything will be available!

So what are the differences between the beers they have available? The way they split it here is in levels of hundreds. 100, 200, 300, and even 400-level beers, all separated based on their strength, depth, or alcohol by volume (abv). Think of the beer you enjoy the most, see where its listed in their guide, and the beer varieties you choose will be all up to you.

As I’m not the biggest beer fan, I was moreso interested in the food they had to offer – and I was shocked at the lengthy menu! I hadn’t envisioned seeing so many different options available, and actually had a bit of a hard time to choose.

To start off the night, we ordered their daily special which happened to be nachos for $7. To my surprise, a huge portion came out to the table, fit for 2 or 3 people to share. Topped with a generous amount of ooey-gooey cheese, the regular fixins and with sides of sour cream and salsa, needless to say I was pretty happy.

I was starting to get pretty stuffed from the nachos when the second appetizer arrived to the table - Adobo Wings: (8) Chicken wings poached in a Filipino adobo sauce, served with pickled cucumber salad. I don’t know why, but I had expected the wings to be crisp and doused in adobo sauce, so to my surprise, the wings themselves were marinated for a long period in adobo sauce, so they were served soft with the side of cucumber salad. The cucumbers were a great accompaniment - crunchy, salty, and deliciously garlicky, while the wings were flavourful and reminiscent of the Chinese “master sauce” (I have NO idea how to word this otherwise: 卤水 or lo shui)

As a main, I had chosen the Porchetta Sandwich – Pulled pork, capicollo ham, provolone, apple slaw on a toasted ciabatta bun. The bun was a tad more toasted than I would have liked, but the interior was still soft, and the porchetta had a nice seasoning to it that still allowed the flavour of the pork to shine through. The housemade fries on the side were crisp yet tender, and a nice accompaniment to the sandwich.

Although I was stuffed, I always had room for dessert. The only real interesting choice to me was the Bailey Creme Brulee. The caramelized layer of sugar on this crème brulee was quite thick, and consequently hard, so it took a lot of effort to crack it open and eat. The custard beneath was quite melty, which could be attributed to the sugar caramelization step, but I’m wondering if the addition of liqueur is actually the culprit. Either way, the custard was delicious and that Bailey’s in there was definitely the star of the dish.

Jalapeno Blue Cheese Burger

From this visit to The Underground Tap & Grill, I was pleasantly surprised about the food since I had no expectations whatsoever. And when they have all their beers available, stop by, and don’t hesitate to order something to snack on. We wouldn’t want you to get drunk on an empty stomach now, would we?

Underground Tap & Grill on Urbanspoon

Blow Dry Bar

Blo Me Away

January 17, 2013

Anyone heard of a blow dry bar? Blow dry bars are out there to set and style your hair just by washing and blow drying it - no cuts or colour. I had read about them in magazines and editorials the past, but had no idea that something like it existed in my city until Tracey, the owner of Blo here in Edmonton, contacted me and gave me a run-down of their services.

Blo Blow Dry Bar - 10158 109 Street - Edmonton AB

Blo has been open here in Edmonton since June of 2012, conveniently located in the heart of Edmonton along 109 Street. Thinking about hair services really put me back to the year of my high school grad - I remember paying some crazy exorbitant price ($100+) for my updo! But here at Blo, it costs $35 for the wash, blow, go service, and $65 for updo's which allow for more creativity. The price is definitely much more affordable in comparison with a salon when you need to get your hair done for a night out!

On the morning of my appointment, as per usual, the sky decided it was time for a silly snowstorm - but I was determined to get my hair done! Walking into Blo, I couldn't help but notice the large windows allowing natural light to brighten the entire place - natural light really helps to brighten the mood and help people feel calm, which is great to help you sit back and relax during your appointment. I was greeted warmly by my stylist and given a 'menu' to choose a hairstyle from. From skyscraper straight to boho chic or even rockstar curly, there are so many options available. I opted for the "Holly Would" - volume and fun, flirty curls.

After taking my jacket, my stylist seated me to have my hair washed and prepped. The warm water coupled with a head massage and conditioning treatment was so relaxing, it was so hard not to fall asleep.

While the girls here at Blo aren't required to have hairstyling certification, each employee goes through a training program called "Blo-U". Everyone is trained in the 7 basic blow out styles, and must accumulate hours of practice before working alone. Everyone does have an interest in hair styling, and I'm sure some have a passion for it! My stylist (pictured above) is actually working towards her hairstyling certification and has a huge interest in esthetics - it really put me at ease thinking she has had lots of practice working with hair, and I knew I was in good hands.

At the end of the day, I would say I left the salon pretty satisfied with my hair - it was glossy, soft, and set perfectly. The stylists at Blo were so friendly, the environment was clean, and the appointment lasted about 30 minutes. It wouldn't take much time out of your day to get your hair done for an event! Blo also hosts 'Blo Parties' for groups, and offers bridal services. There really is something for everyone! Booking appointments are simple with their online system, and at $35 for a hairstyle, I definitely recommend Blo - you'll be happy with your hair and look great for the big night!

All photos thanks to Ray Bulatao Photography

Disclaimer: this hair service was provided for review purposes, but views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Deborah Lippman

Manicure Monday: Lady is a Tramp

January 14, 2013

Happy Monday!! Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend - I spent it away in the mountains and the weather was gorgeous. I'm fully recharged and ready to make my way through this semester!

This week I've got a classic Deborah Lippmann shade to share with you - Lady is a Tramp. I picked this shade up a couple years back on a trip to Hong Kong and can't believe I haven't tried it out yet! The bottle is completely different from those that are made now, but I'm sure the colour is just as rich. Lady is a Tramp is a gorgeous deep red creme, with a jelly-like consistency. It could easily pass as a one coat polish - which will look more like a fuchsia-red when applied. After the second coat, the colour deepens and takes on the mature, deep red.

The formula of this was spot on: not too runny, yet thick enough to flow and be easily controlled during application. The polish dried with an incredibly glossy finish and lasted up to 5 days chip free. I'm thinking I need to get on the Deborah Lippmann train!

All You Can Eat

All You Can Eat: Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar & Grill

January 12, 2013

All you can eat sushi. Something I dread eating in my hometown. Why? There is no fresh water around where I am.. eating expensive mediocre sushi? No thankyou. But if you tell me that there's good sushi nearby, and they offer an all you can eat menu? It's worth trying if I can't pull up the funds to fly to Vancouver and eat it!

Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar and Grill - 220 Lakeland Drive #300 - Sherwood Park, AB

While Sumo Sumo has been around for about 10 years, it's never been a place for me to visit until recently. Sherwood Park isn't necessarily close, but I've heard so many good things about Sumo Sumo! I called to inquire about their menu, and was informed of their All You Can Eat menu that happens every Sunday from 10:30 - 3:00 PM for $35 per adult. From what I understand, you can eat from the a la carte menu on Sunday, but regardless you have to pay the $35 base price in addition to the items you order.

Walking into the restaurant shortly after 11:00 on a Sunday morning meant it would likely be pretty quiet, but there was already a large group seated in the restaurant eating away. The environment was clean, and the large windows allowed natural light to liven up the place.

For the buffet, there is a hot food station and a menu to order from. At the hot food station is a variety of dishes like yakisoba and teriyaki beef for example, but there is also a wide selection of cold salads and specialty sushi rolls not available to order through the all you can eat menu. Some notable items? Wakame (seaweed salad), garlicky edamame, and marinated tofu puffs.

Dessert selection - cheesecakes, cake, and fresh fruit

For sashimi, sushi, tempura and the works, you order through your server instead of using a paper and pencil to order like traditional AYCE restaurants. Of course we went for the sashimi, which is limited to 20 pieces per person... But when we saw the size of the pieces it was absolutely not a problem! The fish was sliced large and thick, making every bite satisfying. We ordered salmon, toro, yellowtail, red snapper and surf clam just to name a few, and everything was so fresh! Totally amazing quality for Edmonton and I would even go as far to say the quality could rival Vancouver.

Assortment from the hot buffet

One definite highlight from the hot buffet was the availability of specialty sushi rolls you cannot order through your server. My favorite roll had to be the Aloha roll: ahi tuna, spicy tuna, avocado, masago, eel sauce, spicy mayo, green onion, pineapple, shredded coconut, soy & sesame oil. But a major hit at the table was the Joe's Special roll: shrimp tempura, smoked salmon, scallop, mango, avocado, green onion, masago mayo, sweet chili sauce & sesame seed. Both rolls had fresh fish and intense flavoring - both which I would definitely order a la carte.

sashimi round two

The quality of sushi here at Sumo Sumo really shocked me - the fresh fish and generous portions were something I didn't ever imagine finding in Edmonton. The All You Can Eat is on the expensive side, but given the quality and location, I would say it is definitely worth a try if you are craving an AYCE sushi fix. I will definitely return for the AYCE and would probably have it up to 2 or 3 times a year here. Beats shelling out $500 flying to Vancouver, right?

Sumo Sumo Sushi Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


Sparkles and Pom Poms

January 09, 2013

H&M Sweater | H&M Toque (similar)| J Brand Jean Leggings | Coach Booties (similar)

The weather here in Edmonton is starting to cool down again, and since I hate the bulkiness of layers, it has caused me to turn to alternative methods to keep warm. Enter: the toque! I've always found hats to look terrible on me, but this one gets a passing grade. The knit pattern and pom-pom give it a girly, laid back feel, so you can bet I'll be wearing it on my trip to the mountains this weekend! Also, anyone recognize this sweater? I bought it about two years ago, and was so surprised to see the same item back in H&M stores this season! It totally reinforces the idea of fashion being recycled over and over :)


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